Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Friday, January 29, 2010

Let's walk down memory lane: embarrasing moments from my past

When I was a freshman in highschool I was a cheerleader. At the pep-rally, in front of the whole school I ran out with the cheerleaders, did a round-off and fell flat on my butt. I've done probably 100,000 round-offs in my life but that's the only time I've ever fallen. Maybe the adrenaline made me take off at a different angle or something.

When I was a Sophmore, my family had moved so I was a new kid in school and didn't have any friends but I was trying to be friendly so I went to the big Thanksgiving football game and drew the school initials on my cheeks in lipstick. When I got home I realized that it was written in reverse because I drew it looking in the mirror. Nobody had said anything!!! Maybe they were just being polite. But I think they were just stuck up. I hated that school.

OK. I saved this for last because this one's the best. In fourth grade we moved from Michigan to Massachusetts. In Michigan I was one of the smartest in the class. In Massachusetts I struggled academically. One day I was tired of sitting there not knowing the answers. "When are they going to ask what the five great lakes are??" I thought to myself. "I know what the five great lakes are!" I got tired of waiting. So finally one day I raised my hand, randomly, and said that "I know what the five great lakes are". The teacher, kindly asked me what the five great lakes were. And this is the best part... I could only remember four of them!!!!!!!!!! The teacher asked if anyone knew the fifth. A boy raised his hand. To this day I still remember the one I missed: Lake Erie.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

s This Is It @ Yahoo! Video

Here's a great video.
Filipino, Philippines "Dancing Inmates" from Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), a maximum security prison, were treated to a visit by Michael Jacksons long-time choreographer Travis Payne and dancers
They must have visited them because of those videos the inmates created first. I think it was to "Thriller". Then, when it became popular on Youtube they did other songs too. I love the lyrics "they don't care about us" because isn't that the truth? Inmates in a third world country. There's probably no other more forgotten group.

I also, never fail, to get the chills, whenever the MLK jr. speech is played.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Funny ad

I saw the funniest print ad. It was for a Kodak printer. It said "Saves money. Prints everything else." lol. Think about that one for a minute. FTR, don't buy the product, it got horrible reviews.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

This woman is underpaid

I went to a story hour for toddlers at my local library. It was uh-mazing. This woman had it coordinated to the T. I've been to other story hour/toddler classes and they weren't nearly as good as this. She started by explaining to the parents the "rules" and she had a really good understanding of toddler behavior and age appropriate expectations. Her stories were very short, because obviously they have short attention spans. There were lots of rhymes, songs, felt board pictures, tapping drums, marching in circle, ringing bells, tossing a stuffed animal, saying animal noises, dancing with a scarf while listening to Vivaldi. There wasn't a moment to get bored. And the best part was that it was constant interaction between me and Saphira. I think her favorite part was when we had to give back the bells and scarfs and sing the clean up song. She's been cleaning up and singing the song all the time since then. Sooooo cute.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

MA Senate race

This wouldn't have happened if my man, Capuano, had won the primary.

The only way my life could suck worse than it does right now is if The Pats don't make the Superbowl... oh. wait...


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Snowman for Coakley

I built this 100 yards from precinct 1 in my city. :)


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Suburban Sprawl

I've read a lot of books on sprawl in America, because I think the subject is an important one; but this one by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Jeff Speck was by far the best: Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream. It shows the stunning contrast between sprawl and "mixed neighborhoods". Basically, the difference between cities designed a hundred years ago and most cities and suburbs designed today. I would like to summarize all of the titillating stuff I found in the book.

  • In sprawl entities are adjacent but not accessible. Case in point: the Walmart in the suburb near my house. My kids and I have ridden our bikes there because we love exercise, but the last 1/8 of a mile before the Walmart there is no sidewalk!!! (Unless we want to cross six lanes of traffic). We have to literally risk our lives to get there.
  • "Quick Mart" equals "an aluminum and glass flat topped building bathed in fluorescent light surrounded by asphalt and topped by a glowing plastic sign. The "corner store" (which the book advocates) is designed to blend in to the neighborhood. (And here where I live, often it is a former part of someone's house).
  • It quotes the Book "Death of Common Sense" which says this about the designers of sprawl: "They have no clear picture of what they want their communities to be... rather all the seem to imagine with is what they don't want: no mixed uses, no slow moving cars, no parking shortages, no overcrowding. Such prohibitions do not a city make."
  • Curved streets used to be determined by "undulating patterns of topography" because they limit connectivity and make smaller lots awkward to build on. But they are commonplace now, perhaps because they are more private, and harder for criminals to just "drive by" and target. The book concludes, "these lolipop shaped dead end streets make about as much sense as driving off road vehicles around the city".
  • "Our history is fraught with many different types of segregation- by race, by class, by how recently you immigrated- but for the first time we are now experiencing ruthless segregation by minute graduation of income. There have always been better or worse neighborhoods and the rich have always taken refuge from the poor but never with such precision. " Then, in the book, there is a picture of housing pods consisting entirely of $350,000+ houses next to a pod of 200,000 houses next to a pod of apartments for less than $100,000. The advantage of mixed neighborhoods is that there is more interaction between classes- more understanding of each other. Also more convenience- you live next to your doctor, babysitter etc. Elderly relatives next to grandchildren. Mansions down the street from apartments. You might think this would devalue the mansions but in "Kentlands" in Gaithersburg Maryland this design was tried and contrary to experts predictions, housing values soared.
  • Sadly you cannot build another Boston today because it is illegal! Zoning prohibits mixed buildings, right up against the sidewalk, etc. (Note: I live in a mixed building. An apartment above a bakery and salon and I love it and it's cheap)
  • I thought this line was funny "Subdivisions [in suburban sprawl] can be identified by their contrived names, which tend toward the romantic- Pheasant Mill Crossing and often pay tribute to the natural or historic resource they have displaced". Ha ha. I used to live at an apartment complex called "The Meadows"
  • "Residents of Suburbia spend an unprecedented amount of time and money moving from one place to the next". This reminds me of the Bible verse: "But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase." Daniel 12:4
  • Narrow streets encourage safer slower driving. There are many studies to back this up. Similarly, more lanes leads to more traffic.
  • FYI for any urban planners reading this, the best planning manual is "Town Planning in Practice"
  • The advocates for 1:10 ratio of low income housing in neighborhoods. This seems right on to me. I've noticed that there seems to be a "tipping point" in which low income housing turns a neighborhood bad.
  • In urban sprawl moving up = moving out of your community. And in the case of the elderly downsizing also = leaving your community. This, does not a healthy society make.
  • "Cookie cutter" is a four letter word in the vocabulary of developers. They fight this with "superficial variety...different shapes, window types, different styles of tack on ornaments... but the best way to create real variety is to vary not the architectural style but the building type".
I've compiled a list of "smart growth" cities and "sprawl cities" that I gleaned from the book. I know I would only be happy in a mixed neighborhood city, so this list may someday be useful to me if I ever move.

Smart Growth Cities
Alexandria VA (interesting note: George Washington helped design this when he was 17)
Coral Gables of Charlston SC
Boston MA
Carmel (Indiana, I think)
Mashpee Commons, MA
Santa Barbara
"Mizner Park" in Boca Raton, FL
Palmer Square in Princeton, NJ
San Francisco, CA
Savannah, GA
Georgeton in Washington DC
Kentlands in Gaithersburg, MD
Nantucket, MA
Charles Town, West Virginia
Sante Fe, New Mexico
Baltimore's Roland Park
(parts of) Chicago
Sea Side, FL
Winter Park, FL
Lowell, MA
Wyndercrest, MD
King District and Cabbagetown, Atlanta, GA

Sprawl Cities
Virginia Beach, VA
Hilton Head Island
Miami Dade County FL
San Bernadino
Syracuse, NY (though in Syracuse's defense, I used to live there and I walked to the city pool, the unviersity, the park, babysitting jobs, school, and friend's house. So maybe they're talking about another part of the city? :shrug
And speaking from experience: Chelmsford, MA

Here is a lovely video about the sort of thing I'm advocating.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010


OH. MY. GOSH. My new all time favorite movie. EVAH.

James Cameron didn't just direct it. He wrote it too. The man is a genius.

It was pretty romantic. Made me kind of fall in love with my husband again.

I've heard people say it had a "sad ending". I completely disagree. The ending rocked!!!

I got my face painted like an avatar at the theater and I love it. I would totally get it tattooed on my face, except that my husband won't let me.

They say that

bipolar can lower your inhibition.

and my psychiatrist says I

shouldn't make any big decisions right now

So I'm thinking that Now wouldn't be a good time to commit to a face tattoo.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

The childhood I want to create

When I think of a soothing home I really think of the mom's mood. She totally sets the tone for the home. Especially for young kids. I have fond memories of doing aerobics with my mom in the livingroom (is that why I became a fitness instructor?) and my mom playing the oboe. As a mom myself, I try to sing hymns around the house and -believe it or not- I know this seems the antithesis of that- dancing to hip-hop and rap with them. Ha ha. I play the flute. I jump on the mini trampoline with them. And the biggest one, I think, is cooking. The smell. The warmth from the oven. The taste of homecooked food. The love you feel when mommy cooks for you.
...which isn't to say that it's always like this. I screw up. A lot. But this is the ideal I shoot for.

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